Green Blazer, Blue Blazer..

Oh no, this is not some tongue-twister game that I’m starting with you! You can breath easy! 🙂

This, in fact, is the base of a flow of thoughts that was set in motion after a discussion with a friend whose children studied in one of the schools here.

The exam season is going on in most of the schools here, or at least the Indian schools here and most of the children, I know have their noses buried deep in their course books. And parents, or at least some of them, have their eyes, noses, heads, expectations firmly fixed on their kids to ensure that they prepare their subjects well enough to score high passing marks.

Now there are plenty of parents I come across here who go through their own hyper-ventilating sessions every time the examination-fever is in the air. They bring about all kinds of embargo into their lives. ‘No watching television’. ‘No socializing’. ‘No phone calls’. ‘No internet’. ‘No Facebook’ ‘No playing, dancing, singing, nothing!’ Only stress and mounting pressure to perform.

And the embargo is not just restricted to the kids but the parents too, mind you!

Anyway this post is not about those parents and their parenting styles. They are a fodder for another day another post.

This post is rather aimed at this particular approach that one of the schools here has adopted, apparently, to encourage the students to perform better.

I learnt from a friend recently that the students of the school, who otherwise have green blazers as their uniform, are rewarded blue blazers if they manage to score top grades for three consecutive years. Furthermore they get to wear a blue-tie as well if the top grades are scored for the fourth straight time.

And this friend of mine was distressing about how her daughter was so worried about scoring the top grades this time around for that would entail her the blue blazer!
Ok Now I am happy to see her so driven and studying hard to get the required marks( and the blazer) because I know she is a very bright girl who is confident that she is capable of score high marks.

This incentive may be helpful for those smart promising students who have their confidence and morale intact and for whom this may be motivating enough to work harder and be one of the chosen ones to own the blue blazer.

But what about those weaker students who need that extra push and attention to score passing marks or those average ones who may not be scoring as many marks as their top ranking class-mates and who may just have to make do with the ‘ordinary’ green blazers? Does it mean that they are not good enough? Just because they dont have enough numbers on their mark sheets, does it mean that they are not smart enough?

Every child is different and smart in his/her own way. And every child needs encouragement and motivation just as much as any other, if not more.

Which is why I am not sure how motivating such techniques that schools have in place are. Such segregation based on grades and intellect can demoralize a less scoring child, in my opinion. Imagine a group of students wearing green blazers entering a classroom where there are some students in blue blazers. How likely is for the green blazer wearing students to be ignored or looked down upon by their mates in blue blazers or how likely is for the blue blazer wearing students to be grudged of their status by their mates in green blazers?

I have seen and heard of instances where teachers have favoured the high scoring students by investing time and energy on them, over the weaker students.

Why, its approaches like this that make those overbearing parents sit on their children’s head like a hawk and push them to perform beyond their capacity.

I find such methods so utterly discriminating and unfair. And I have my doubts how encouraging and helpful these are for our children. Hope I am wrong.

Gender-Bender

D: Listen, I’m thinking of redoing my CV and I may need your help. I think its time I got back to work.
R: Ok.
D: Or wait, I don’t think I’m ready yet.
R: Ok.
D: I’m way too comfortable living the life of a stay at home mom to chuck it and feel the pressure of a 9-6,7&8 job? Oh I love my tourism-profession, but I also know how thankless it can be at times, you know.

And after some more mulling over

D: Wait, let me think it over if I really want to get back to work or no.
R( with a chuckle): Ok.
D( sensing a sarcastic tinge in that chuckle): Why that chuckled OK?
R: Just wondering if, after what you said, you still think all these cries for men & women to be given equal benefits and opportunities hold any value.
D: What do you mean?
R: I mean, if I were to realize one fine day that no, I do not want to work, and that I’d rather siit at home instead and be with my child and wife, will I have an option to do that?
D: Yes of course you would, IF I were also working. And if I were earning more than you, then most CERTAINLY you’d have that option.
R: What I’m trying to say is that while its ok to talk about equal opportunities for men & women its also worth mentioning that women do enjoy some perks at times. Like for eg. If you were working and you had a tiff with your boss, you could choose to throw that job right at his/her face and walk out. I wouldn’t have the same option.

And this set me wondering. Do we, women, really have it this easy? Do we really enjoy perks vis a vis men?

Even though, in my defense, I said that I would NOT walk out so easily if I was the only working member in the family OR if I were earning more than him and I knew by bringing in a few more riyals we could run the house better, still somewhere deep in my mind I couldn’t help but wonder if the same perk will hold true for R.

If R were to really quit his work and become a stay at home dad will his decision be received well by people around us, by people who matter to us even? Not very well, I suppose. Because very soon, our society consisting of elders, relatives, well-wishers, friends, etc may take it upon themselves to pull him down at every given opportunity making him feel guilty for being jobless and for living on his wife’s earnings.

I remember when I took that decision to quit work to become a stay at home mom, I didn’t have to counter any pressurizing questions from anybody around me, the only questions I had to counter were the ones that cropped up inside my own self- questions about my own anxieties and fears, about whether I was taking the right decision, whether it was going to work out well for me, R & my child,etc.. But never was I made to feel guilty by my society for being ‘jobless’ or about my ‘supposed’ financial dependence on my husband. I was in fact commended for that decision because as per them this was what I was ‘supposed’ to do.

This was accepted and expected of me.

It is easy for a woman to take that one decision to quit work and just stay at home. If a woman quits work or decides to stay at home, nobody points fingers at her. Because that is what she is ‘expected’ to do. From the time she is born the need to get married, the need to subdue herself to the domesticity of life is drilled into the woman. No matter howsoever much she is encouraged to pursue her education, howsoever much she is taught to become confident, bold, assertive, she is told her ultimate happiness lies in getting married , producing children, and eventually being dependent-emotionally and financially- on her husband.

On the other hand a man is expected to bring income. The onus of earning for the family lies on the man. And if he shows any inclination to become a caregiver for his family he is snubbed by the society, he is tagged hen-pecked, spineless, and shameless for his supposed dependence on his wife’s earnings.
A man is raised to be the bread-winner while a woman is raised with the sole motive to get married. Any change in this set-up, all hell breaks loose. The society with all its might pounces on the man, who decides to stay at home and the woman, who decides to bring in ‘income’ to get them to change their mindsets because its not the ‘expected’ thing to do.

The truth is it’s the stereotypical mentality of our society that needs to change. Its still difficult for our society to accept that a woman can be more qualified than her spouse and can be the bread-earner of the family. It’s all in the mindset. The day we accept its as much ok for a woman to earn more than her husband as it is ok for a man to be the caregiver for his family, I think gender equality will have a better standing in our society.

Today I am a mother and I’m aware that my child is going to surrounded by people advising her about how her responsibility lies in getting married, raising children, becoming the obedient, dutiful doormat of a daughter-in-law. While I do want her to fall in love with a wonderful man, get married into a beautiful family, become a mother, have a family of her own, I do not want it to be her sole motive in life. I had rather have her grow up to be someone who gets to do what she aspires to do than do what she is expected to do.

Ma, I didn’t get forced! ( NaBloPoMo- Take 11)

This is what Namnam said to me, the other day when she got back from school.

I asked, ‘why did you say that? What happened?’ She replied’ you know ma, JM told me to sit in another chair but I didnt sit. He said”‘katti” and I said “ok” ‘. To which I asked, ‘Why did you say that? Dont you want JM to be your friend?’ Pat came the reply,’ Yes, ma, but why should he force me? I KNOW where I want to sit’.

Now this happened when, only the night before, I had advised her how she should not force anybody to do things that she wants them to do and in the same way she must not allow anybody to force her to do things against her wish. Although this advice was, in retaliation to her constant pestering to get me to draw some painting that I didnt have a clue about( imagine, me & painting 🙄 ), I made or at least tried to make her understand that she had to apply this wherever she felt the need to.

A lot of factors made me give this particular advice to her. One of them primarily being the horrific stories that I had been reading about child sexual abuse lately. I realize how much trauma those poor little souls had been forced to undergo, even worse how much they had been forced to shush up their stories, how much they have been forced to blame themselves for their ordeal.

The other factor being the umpteen stories of unjust parental expectations crushing the dreams of their children. So many parents forcing their kids to study harder and become an engineer or a scientist or chartered accountant. Why? Because it was something that THEY wanted to achieve but couldn’t so the only way to live their dream was through their children. And if the children, by any stroke of ill-fate, harbored a different dream for themselves that clashes with the expectations of their parents, then they were forced by way of thrashing/ hitting/emotionally blackmailing to change the course of their dreams.

Sometimes I feel I go overboard when I find myself nagging her to do her homework. Oh how I hate myself for doing that. Oh yes she brings homeworks! A mere kindergartener. I have so much to say about that but I’ll let that grouse be for another day,another post.


Anyway, coming back to the advice when I saw parents forcing their children to conform to their sky-high expectations, it pained me to see how much they were hampering the confidence and growth of their children. And I didnt want any of that to happen to my child. I didnt want her to feel forced into doing something that she didnt want to do. I didnt want her to think that she didnt have the freedom to do things that interested her. I wanted her to know she had all the freedom to dream and go after those dreams. Hence the advice.

So when she came and told me the class-incident, even though a small one at that, it made me happy to see that she did understand that advice after all. It made me happier that she had a mind of her own to know what she wanted.

Many a times, as parents, we end up forcing our children to do things that we want them to do. I agree many times our little ones are unreasonable in their demands and we are left with no option but to get a bit more compulsive.

But when we demand an all ‘A’ from her children and go all overboard when they bring home a B instead OR force them to become an engineer despite knowing that their interests lie in becoming a singer OR force them to get married to a person of OUR choice while expecting them to disregard their own OR force our them( daughters specifically) to ‘adjust’ or go in for a samjhauta in their marital homes, then its us who are being unreasonable, arent we?

Why force our kids into submitting to our unreasonable ways? Why not let them have a mind of their own and let them do things out of their own free will?